MP LSA Build Progress for Oshkosh

MP LSA Build Progress for Oshkosh

I can’t believe it has already been almost a month since we got back from Oshkosh!  I posted some pix in the forums of our booth during the air show and now it is time to give some progress on what happened with the engineering mock-up build leading up to Oshkosh and some of the hassles and problems overcome. Jeffrey came over from Israel a couple of weeks before the show and we both got stuck in to the build and assembly of the tail boom.  We had planned for months to get together before Oshkosh to do the build together so that we could collaborate on the assembly process and look at various techniques together.  I could have built more of the aircraft on my own, but we would have lost a lot of valuable experience building and assembling the parts together.  Google Hangouts can only go so far.  As a result of the build together, we think we can make some better decisions on the build process and we will also make some minor design changes as a result. While Jeffrey was in town, we had plans to build more of the cabin and wing structure however the CNC machine decided to blow a motor driver and lead-time for the replacement part was two weeks. In any case, lack of CNC capability did slow us down, but did not stop progress.  Luckily I had access to a plotter and we plotted full-sized templates for the side and bottom panels.  We then cut out the panels, cut the slots and started assembly.  It did keep us busy for an extra two days cutting out the panels by hand.  I guess it proves that we can still build the aircraft without necessarily having a CNC machine, but that isn’t really the point! As you have seen from my video here, I had already cut out the bulkhead panels on the CNC before it decided to let the magic smoke out of the X-Axis driver.  We started cutting out panels on the 17th of July, which was about 11 days before Oshkosh opened…. no panic.   That time also included a two day drive from Canada to Oshkosh.  OK, time to panic.  The new plan was to build the tail boom and get it attached to the previously built cockpit section. Here is a short sequence of images that show the...

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New Stick Shaker Product

New Stick Shaker Product

Press Release:   MakerPlane and Vx Aviation Introduce Industry’s First pre-Stall Warning Haptic Stick-Shaker for E-AB Aircraft. Simple to install Stick Shaker uses EFIS AoA information from Dynon, Garmin and Grand Rapids Technology to provide tactile feedback of impending stall. TORONTO, CANADA 21 July 2014—MakerPlane and its development partner Vx Aviation today announced a low-cost, easy-to install haptic stick shaker for Experimental Amateur Built Aircraft. The SWZL-1A is an aircraft “stick shaker” controller system that provides a haptic pre-stall warning based on a stall vane switch or the Angle of Attack (AoA) information received from an electronic flight information system (EFIS) serial data stream. The SWZL-1A controller directly drives a small vibration motor that is clamped to the control stick or control yoke of the aircraft.  The device is compatible with EFIS devices from Dynon, Garmin and Grand Rapids Technology (GRT). In normal operation the stick shaker does not interfere with the aircraft controls.  As a stall is approached, the aircraft angle of attack increases to the point where the stick begins vibrating and pulsing.  As the angle of attack increases, the amplitude of the vibration and the frequency of the pulsing increase, providing a progressive indication of an impending stall.  For aircraft without an angle of attack sensor, a simple stall vane switch may be connected to the SWZL-1A controller to provide a single-level, non-progressive pre-stall indication. According to John Nicol, President of MakerPlane, “This is the first commercially aftermarket stick shaker for experimental aircraft.  Our development partner, Vx Aviation has developed a very small, simple and low cost device that will substantially enhance aircraft safety.  Unlike visual or audible warnings, a stick shaker provides immediate feedback to the pilot without alarming passengers.  It provides direct haptic feedback that is hard to ignore even during stressful situations. ” Nicol added, “We will be demonstrating the stick shaker at Oshkosh Airventure 2014 at our booth inside the EAA Innovation Center. The product has been extensively flight tested in a Van’s RV-9A and a Harmon Rocket-II and we are currently taking orders for August delivery.  We are also showing our extensive range of avionics that include the new automatic trim controller, the MakerPlane open source EFIS and of course our prototype open source light sport aircraft.” The SWZL-1A is available for $149 (fully assembled).  In kit form, it is available for $119.  ...

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New Product : M-PWR-2AT Auto-Trim for Dynon SkyView

New Product : M-PWR-2AT Auto-Trim for Dynon SkyView

Press Release 16 July 2014:   2-axis variable speed trim controller features auto-trim, plus automatic stuck switch detection, indication and correction. TORONTO, CANADA 16 July 2014 — MakerPlane and its development partner Vx Aviation today announced an enhanced version of the popular M-PWR-2 trim controller.  The M-PWR-2AT adds automatic pitch and roll trim control to aircraft that use Dynon SkyView autopilot systems. The M-PWR-2AT provides two independent trim motor control channels, with selectable trim motor speeds based on external sensors or airspeed information embedded in the serial data stream as provided by popular EFIS systems.  A unique feature of the M-PWR-2 family is the ability to detect, indicate and correct stuck input switches and prevent dangerous runaway trim events while still maintaining full control of the trim motors. When used with the Dynon SkyView autopilot, the device provides 2-axis auto-trim capability, thus minimizing pilot work load and enhancing flight safety. The small size of the M-PWR-2AT allows it to be conveniently mounted anywhere in the aircraft and unlike other trim controllers, it requires almost no panel space.  Only a single illuminated push-button is required to provide the stuck trim switch detection, indication and correction function. According to John Nicol, President of MakerPlane, “This is the only stand-alone trim controller that can provide all of these features.  Better yet, it is based on open-source hardware that may be purchased as a circuit board, in kit form or as a fully assembled and tested product.” Nicol added, “Our partner Vx Aviation has developed more than 20 products for MakerPlane.  Every one of them has been extensively flight tested and are used in all types of experimental aircraft and even in warbirds and jets.  Many of these designs have been in flying aircraft for over 10 years.” With the release of the M-PWR-2AT, the M-PWR-2 family has grown to three.  The M-PWR-2X provides basic 2-axis variable-speed trim functionality for $175 (fully assembled), the M-PWR-2A adds stuck switch detection and correction and the ability to use EFIS airspeed for trim motor speed scheduling for $275 (fully assembled).  The M-PWR-2AT adds auto-trim capability to the M-PWR-2A for an additional $50.  See the products in the MakerPlane Store. MakerPlane is an open source aviation company that enables people to build and fly their own safe, high quality, reasonable cost airplane using digital manufacturing equipment such as CNC and 3D printers.  MakerPlane also provides open source...

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CNC Hotwire Attachment

CNC Hotwire Attachment

You would have seen my previous attempts at cutting foam board to the thickness I need for MakerPlane in a previous post.  I wasn’t really satisfied with the process.  Not that the parts didn’t turn out well, but I am lazy and it was a lot of work to set up the table and hotwire for the job.  So in typical fashion, I spent hours designing and building something so that I could be lazy…. not sure how that works out… but it was fun and I got to build something new on the CNC machine that wasn’t part of a plane. I started with the concept of moving the hotwire bow cutter that I have along the bed of the CNC machine.  This is a 4′ bow from Hotwire Foam Factory that they don’t make any more.   Hopefully when I get some time after Oshkosh I will put up a tutorial on how to make your own.  I have already shot a video of putting together the power supply for the cutter, just need to edit it and get it up.  So anyway, the dimensions of my particular solution were based upon clamping the bow into the device.  In my design, you don’t necessarily need a bow, just use some dowel or metal conduit with nichrome wire between then and clamp the rod into the holder. The end result is this: I used the Vectric V-Carve Pro 6.0 application to create the parts and the g-code to cut them out.  In the process of writing this blog post, I was going to post the VCarve files as well and realized that I had somehow lost the original files.  All I have is the generated gcode.  Luckily after some googling I found an awesome open source project called G-Code Ripper, which allows the import of g-code and the export of dxf files.  That allows me to import the dxf file back in to V-Carve to re-create the geometry for editing as required.  It isn’t perfect because it basically turns the machine tool-path into a line.  This doesn’t reflect the original geometry as it traces where the tool is going.  It will always be out by half the radius of the end-mill being used.  In this case a 6mm end-mill means that the lines are 3mm from the edge of the now deleted geometry. <sigh>  Better than nothing for...

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MakerPlane Parts on CNC

MakerPlane Parts on CNC

Finally starting to make parts for the full-sized prototype on the upgraded CNC machine.  I actually did the work you see here in the post in early May, so still catching up on documenting the process.   I profess to not being the most dynamic blogger/video maker!  Time spent doing that is time away from the workshop, but time not documenting doesn’t let anyone know what progress is being made! In this update, I have built the bulkheads that go into the tailboom.  You will see the tabs as well on the parts to ease the construction process.  The foam composite board is made up of 10mm foam core with 2 layers of BID (bi-directional fibreglass cloth) on each side.  The plan below shows the four bulkheads that were cut out. Here is the start of the cutting on the CNC.  I used a 6mm bit at 12,000 RPM.  I feedrate was about 800mm minute.  I could have gone faster for sure and will up the speed the next time. Finished the cutting.  There is a lot of waste on this board as you can see.  I will re-use it for other parts.  The idea is that once the prototype has been completed, we will be able to nest the parts and optimize the board cuts to reduce as much of the waste as possible. The parts weren’t fully cut through, so I will lower the bit by about 0.3mm next time and this should cut all the way through.  I still had tabs set around the perimeter of the parts to hold them in place. And here are the parts after I cut them out using a vibrating cutting tool. A light sand took care of any fibres sticking out.  It was a very good cut and it didn’t take long to clean up the edges. Here is a short video of the creation of these parts that I stuck on YouTube:    ...

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DIY CNC Cable Carrier

DIY CNC Cable Carrier

As part of the CNC build, I had to make sure that all the cables connecting the motors, spindle, coolant tubes and so on don’t get tangled up and run over by the gantry as it is cutting material.  To make sure that doesn’t happen, one option is to use a cable carrier.  These are also known as drag chains, energy chains (e-chain), or cable chains.   Here is an example of a commercial chain. I was debating whether or not to purchase something on eBay or a CNC parts shop, but being cheap, I decided to make my own.  There are some fantastic free resources online on how to make your own e-chain using a CNC, however in order to make it, you need to make sure that your cables don’t get tangled or cut while you are doing it, so a bit of egg and chicken thing happening.  I decided to do a two step process and make my own temporary e-chain using materials at hand and regular tools and then look at using the CNC machine to create a permanent solution. So this post is about the first step to create a temporary fix. I got the idea from a website that I have since lost the link to, so apologies for not providing appropriate attribution, thanks and links.  I will edit this post as soon as I find it again.  Update: Brian over at Woodworkerb reached out to me and now the site is found again!  Check out his blog post on the original build he did here: http://woodworkerb.com/home/diy-cnc-machine/diy-cable-carrier-tray/   Many thanks Brian for the inspiration and original concept! The reason I chose this particular idea was that it was fairly simple to cut the parts out on my table saw and put it all together and I had scrap wood that I could make it out of.   The only cost was about $4 for some 1″ machine screws.  I did experiment with some plastic light diffuser material as a hinge, but this proved to be too brittle and I ended up using duct tape as you will see below. The first thing I did was to rip four x 4′ length of 1/2″ plywood to 4″ wide to make two sections of echain.  Nothing special about the dimensions, just what I thought would be wide enough to lay the cables down on.  I also had a...

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Workbench Build

Workbench Build

I have been working to get ready for Oshkosh, which is coming up far too quickly and have not updated the blog in a while.  There is quite a lot of progress on multiple fronts and it has been a very busy few months.   Over the next couple of weeks I hope that I can get everything up-to-date online.   The CNC machine as of last weekend is complete enough to start cutting full-sized MakerPlane parts and I have the first test run of some parts done.  I have been working on getting avionics projects ready for Oshkosh and completed about 50 units in the past few weeks with probably another 50 to go.  Working with Vern as well to get a couple more of his avionics projects up on the Hangar Workshop and ready for primetime with circuit boards and parts ordered, soldered, bagged and tagged (with more to be released soon!).  We have also been throwing some interesting ideas around off-line about some more avionics systems and hope that we will meet at Oshkosh to have a bit of a MakerPlane summit to solidify these ideas more.  BTW, everyone is welcome to join us.  A group of us are camping at AirVenture this year, including Jeffrey coming over from Israel, so it will be a ton of fun! So in order to get started on the catch-up, in this blog post I will share some pix of the build/assembly-table I put together.  This was done earlier this year and there is still snow on the ground outside!  The table is purposely built to look like it is temporary so that I can keep the family at least partially hopeful that they will get the downstairs living area back one day…. It is comprised of two doors glued and screwed together end-on-end and on saw horses.  It is shimmed to be as flat and level as I can get it without being too anal about it.  (After an hour of shimming and measuring it was within a hair across the entire length.)  This arrangement gives me about 4m x 90cm (~13’4″ x 36″) of flat workspace.     I also experimented with a couple of different methods to hotwire foam to the various thicknesses I need in order to build the MakerPlane prototype.  The first method I used was to get some metal dry-wall corner profiles and attach...

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Open Source CAN-BUS Shield

Open Source CAN-BUS Shield

Phil has just completed a CAN-BUS shield for Arduino in support of CAN-FIX and our open source avionics initiatives (particularly the open source EFIS discussed in more detail in the MakerPlane forums).   The schematics, BOM and Eagle files are available in the Hangar Workshop and the boards are available from Oshpark at cost.   Phil has also uploaded an Arduino sketch in github to make it work as a generic USB to CAN adapter if folks want to look at the code and add to it. It’s different from the other CAN shields out there in a couple of ways.  First you can select which CS pin you want to use.  CS is jumper selectable to either D9 or D10.  It also breaks out the interrupt pin of the MCP2515 and is jumper selectable to either INT0 or INT1 on the Arduino.  The pins for the RXxBF and TXxRTS pins are broken out along with all the Arduino pins.  Soldering jumpers can connect any of these to the Arduino if that’s needed. It has a DB9 connector that has standard CAN pin outs as well as a small screw terminal for CANH and CANL.  CAN bus termination is also jumper selectable.          ...

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Open Source Magneto P-Lead Tach Signal Stabilizer Released

Open Source Magneto P-Lead Tach Signal Stabilizer Released

We are very happy to announce another open source avionics project released by MakerPlane from Vern Little !   This is also available for purchase in the MakerPlane Store. The P-TACH converts the electrically noisy and variable magneto P-Lead signal from aircraft magnetos into a stable digital pulse waveform for processing by modern digital engine monitoring systems. The P-TACH eliminates spurious over-or-under-indication of rpm readings by filtering and stabilizing the variable magneto impulses.  A typical magneto impulse is shown in the picture below.  Variation of the magneto impulses occur due to changes in rpm, spark plug gapping, ignition wire condition and age.  In multi-cylinder engines, magneto pulses vary between cylinders, making it difficult for simple tachometer circuits to operate reliably. The P-TACH is mounted on either side of the firewall where it is not subject to the high temperatures and vibration that cause engine-mounted sensors to fail.  Due to its compact size, it may be secured simply by tie-wrapping onto an existing wiring harness as shown in below.  Only four wires are required- sensor power, ground, p-lead input and tach output.  Yes, this is a flight tested unit! All of the P-TACH circuitry is mounted in a 15-pin D-subminiature connector shell.   There is a single threshold control that is factory-set to 50% and will work in most applications.  If unreliable RPM indications are noticed, small adjustments may be made with a screwdriver. See the project page in The Hangar Workshop for the open source documentation or see the links in the Downloads page. John is the founder of MakerPlane. A pilot, aircraft homebuilder and maker. A former New Zealand Army Officer, he has also been in the high-tech industry as an executive in the Public Safety and Defence industries in New Zealand and Canada including as CEO of a Canadian Top 40 Defence company. John left Lockheed Martin in 2012 as a Principal Engineer and was involved in the launch to market of the Lockheed Martin Prepar3D flight simulation product. John lives just north of Ottawa, Canada with his wife and son....

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Open Source Dual Channel Variable Speed Trim Motor Controller Released

Open Source Dual Channel Variable Speed Trim Motor Controller Released

We are very happy to announce another open source avionics project released by MakerPlane from Vern Little of Vx Aviation! The M-PWR-2 is a two-channel variable speed trim motor control device developed primarily for amateur-built aircraft applications.   The device features two all-electronic motor drive channels in one compact package, capable of controlling Ray Allen (RAC) or Firgelli servo motors directly. Fast and slow motor speeds are independently adjustable for each channel and are selectable using an external sensor or EFIS serial airspeed information. Each motor channel is capable of driving up to 1.2 amps with input voltages from 8 to 18 volts.  Protection is provided against voltage surges and reversed polarity on all inputs.  As an open source hardware design, the M-PWR-2 device is a platform for development.  Basic two-channel variable speed trim motor control is provided in the Baseline (X-suffix) version and users may develop their own firmware using the provided driver source code as a starting point.  The M-PWR-2 uses a Microchip PIC13KF22 CPU and is compatible with the readily available MPLAB IDE and PICKIT development tools. An enhanced feature set is available at extra cost by upgrading to the A-suffix version microcontroller.  In this M-PWR-2A device, the on-board low-voltage RS-232 interface extracts serial airspeed information from Dynon SkyView or Garmin G3X EFIS air data streams.  This information may be used to replace or augment physical airspeed or flaps sensor switches.  The airspeed threshold is easily set in flight by using an external pushbutton switch and indicator lamp. A unique feature of the A-suffix upgrade is the ability to detect and correct a stuck input trim switch or wiring fault. When a fault is detected, a lamp is illuminated, the faulted input is ignored and the external pushbutton switch is used to temporarily assume control of the input until the fault is corrected.  Since the lamp and switch are required for EFIS mode indication and airspeed threshold programming, there is no extra hardware cost in providing input fault detection and correction. The open source files and documentation are available from the Hangar Workshop, or link from the Downloads Page.  Fully assembled units and kits are also available from the MakerPlane Store....

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pyEFIS Update

pyEFIS Update

Neil has been working on the pyEFIS system and thrown up a video of the interface being stimulated by Flight Gear (open source flight simulator). For those that don’t know, some of  the guys are working on an open source avionics stack for the Raspberry Pi and the CAN-FIX protocol.  AWESOME!   More info on the MakerPlane forums: www.makerplane.org/forums/ and look at the Open Source Avionics topic.  Neil has indicated that the code will be updated on the MakerPlane Github site soon, so stay tuned!      ...

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3D Printer Tools 2

3D Printer Tools 2

Ted has put together an initial zip file containing a few items that are potentially useful not only to MakerPlane, but homebuilt aircraft in general.   I will put this file up into the downloads page of this site as well very soon.   For now you can also go to the MakerPlane forums and download it from there.   http://makerplane.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=278 The file contains a small collection of 3D stl (stereolithographic) objects that can be printed on a 3D printer.  Some objects are from Thingiverse and it also includes the flight grip that Ted designed.  A sample of this is printed and can be seen in the MakerPlane forums.  The gallery below shows the objects that are included in the zip: [Show as slideshow]   Thanks Ted!!      ...

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